Information from healthetopics.com health professionals about what really can be done to treat acne.
The content of this page was developed by licensed health professionals experienced in treating acne. We will only give you the straight facts related to acne treatment and will only discuss medically sound acne treatments. In the process we will, without any hype, tell you exactly what can be done to control mild acne. If you are looking for some hocus pocus or non effective 'cures' look elsewhere as there are many scams online and elsewhere related to acne treatment that would love to take your money. Please beware!
Acne is a condition that close to 100% of the population have
at least a little trouble with, usually in the teen years. Most people find that
it clears up as they get beyond their teen years even with little or no acne
treatment. Most people if reflecting back to their teen years might say they had
a few pimples, sometimes at inconvenient times but that it was not a big deal. A
smaller percentage of acne suffers have somewhat or much worse acne that is
unsightly, often painful, may scar and can have devastating psychological
consequences. Treatment is available for all types of acne usually resulting in
significant improvement of the symptoms although more severe cases need to be
treated by a physician using medications like oral antibiotics, Accutane or
birth control pills.
Acne is usually broken into three types based on symptoms:
Mild- You may see quite a few comdones (blackheads) but not a lot of inflamed lesions (whiteheads) and these lesions are quite close to the surface with no underlying nodules.
Moderate- At this level there will be a significant number of inflamed lesions with quite a few pustules (larger more boil like lesions).
Severe- The person with severe acne will have the symptoms of moderate acne but will additionally exhibit many nodules and large cysts. An individual with severe facial acne will probably also have it on their back and chest.
Most acne in the mild to slightly moderate range can be self treated as long as no scarring is occurring. If the acne is in upper moderate or severe range or if scarring is occurring a health provider experienced in treating acne should be seen. You certainly should also see a physician if there are any other complicating factors such as other medical conditions that may be contributing to the condition or that may make treatment difficult.
To develop your own successful acne treatment program you need to be willing to discipline yourself to faithfully follow a program and be willing to wait for a number of weeks to see significant results. Different people respond to different acne treatments but it is critical to give whatever you are using a chance to work before switching to something else!
First we will briefly explain what acne is. Skin produces oils (sebum) that passes through small channels (ducts) to the surface. During the teen years hormonal changes cause a significant increase in sebum production. At the same time there are also changes in the lining of the ducts that cause the sebum to pass more slowly to the surface and sometimes form plugs in the opening of the duct. Extended exposure to air will cause this plug to become dark often called a blackhead (comedone). Sometimes bacteria will exist in the duct also leading to a small localized infection or whitehead (closed comedone). For some individuals the process if infected ducts and the resulting inflammation progresses to the point of cystic acne.
Treating mild to slightly moderate acne as mentioned above requires you to faithfully follow an acne treatment plan. One big mistake that is often made is to try to scrub acne away. Aggressive washing actually can make acne appear worse and certainly does not help! Remember that acne is not caused by dirty skin, it is a result of your unique body chemistry and needs to be treaded with the proper products to make it better. Yes you need to keep your face clean, try to keep your hair away as much as possible, try not to rub or scratch at any pimples, but don't abuse it by aggressive washing. So, how should you wash your face? Use a mild fragrance free facial cleanser (even bar soap is ok if that is all you have). Wash your face morning and night with warm but not hot water and gently pat dry. If you face is especially oily you can wash it once or twice additionally each day but you may need to reapply any medications used. The next step is to apply some type of medication. Most over the counter medications that really work usually contain benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide helps in a couple of ways. First it has antibacterial properties that will decrease the number of whiteheads that develop and secondly it causes the surface skin cells to turnover quicker. At first it may cause some redness and peeling until your skin adjusts to it. You may need to use a gentle oil free lotion if your skin gets too dry. If your skin seams quite sensitive be sure you are using a low strength of benzoyl peroxide (2.5%) and gently wash it off after a couple of hours. Then gradually increase the length of time as your skin begins to tolerate it until you no longer have to wash it off between normal twice daily washings. A number of recent studies have shown that using benzoyl peroxide works as well as or better than oral antibiotics for many mild to moderate cases of acne. Use the products faithfully every day and after a few weeks you should see good results. Because of the way benzoyl peroxides causes a mild skin irritation you should always use a oil free sunscreen before extended sun exposure to help protect your skin.
To save yourself some time searching for appropriate effective products (cleanser, active treatment product, soothing lotion), you might consider one of the acne treatment kits available such as Proactiv. These can work very well because of the balanced complimentary nature of each if the individual products included. Benzoyl peroxide is the key component in all of the best product lines because it works!
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Although as accurate as possible, the information on this page or provided to you by email from us, may not relate to your particular medical condition and is not intended to be used in the diagnosis of any medical condition and may not be appropriate for you. Always refer to your healthcare provider before making any changes in any treatment plan. In addition any sites to which we link may or may not contain information appropriate to your medical condition.